Charities like TRAID rely on donations from the public to stock the UK’s charity shops, and for many charities, textile banks are a vital source of clothes donations. But they are under threat.

TRAID’s Taking Stock report reveals that an overwhelming majority of people using textile banks in the UK prefer to donate to charity-led textile banks. Yet, two-thirds have no idea that some textile banks are run by commercial companies which profit from their donations.

A new YouGov study of UK textile bank users commissioned by the charity TRAID reveals that:

  • 88% of people prefer to use textile banks run by a charity
  • 84% of people believe that donating clothes is an important way to support charities
  • 67% of people are unaware that textile banks can be run by commercial companies
  • 66% of people would stop donating entirely or donate less frequently if their local textile bank was run by a commercial company
  • 95% of people think that textile banks should be clearly labelled to show who is benefiting from the sale of the clothes
  • 79% of people think local councils should award all textile bank contracts to charities

In light of these challenges, TRAID has proposed three easy to implement recommendations

  • Greater transparency about who benefits from clothes put into textile banks
  • A commitment from local authorities to ensure that at least 60% of all textile banks on council-owned land are charity-led
  • A commitment from local authorities seeking to raise funds for the right to collect textiles from commercial companies that existing charity textile banks will not be removed

These recommendations create a fairer solution which suits all parties, while continuing to provide the UK public with the opportunity to support charities with their clothes donations, which they clearly want.

Robin Osterley, CEO at the Charity Retail Association said: “TRAID has highlighted some of the growing problems charities face, especially in the rising annual sums that a number of councils are now asking for the right to place a textile bank. Such policies seem to be at odds with public awareness and public attitudes. We fully endorse the report recommendations, which are flexible and reasonable enough in allowing councils to still take commercial decisions, but would not remove any more of these vital sources of stock from our communities.”

Download TRAID’s Taking Stock Summary Report here

Download TRAID’s Taking Stock Full Version Report here

To find out more about the issues raised in the report please contact Andrea Speranza, Head of Campaigns and Education.